A while back, the savvy people who make Snickers candy bars launched a thrilling new advertising campaign called “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” A major feature of the campaign was the swapping out of the word “Snickers” on their packaging for a variety of words for behaviors caused by, it would seem, failing to consume candy in a timely manner. Much like those insipid miniature license plates sold at truck stops all across the nation, the new wrapping offered consumers the narcissistic satisfaction of seeing their identities reflected in a product. In this case, they could finally express their particular reaction to being hungry by selecting the version of the packaging that best described it.
Unsurprisingly, it paid off. There’s nothing this generation loves so much as its proclaimed entitlement to made-to-order individualism. From Rachel Dolezal “identifying as black” to personalized ringtones to the many pop anthems championing the idea of “you being you” (even if no one can stand you), the current cultural climate demands more and more tributes to individual expression. And now, thank God, at last, that demand has been heard by the people who make candy.
Who are you when you’re hungry? The Snickers options are seemingly endless. They include “sleepy,” “feisty,” “loopy,” “spacey,” “rebellious,” “whiny,” “impatient,” “snippy,” “grouchy,” “dramatic,” “ornery,” “complainer,” “cranky,” “confused,” “drama mama,” “goofball,” “forgetful,” “irritable,” “princess,” “ferocious,” “edgy,” “hot mess,” “troublemaker,” “klutz,” “cray cray,” “oddball,” “snarky,” “shady,” “delusional,” “crabby,” “scatterbrain,” “sarcastic,” “befuddled,” “knucklehead,” and “clumsy.”
And who wouldn’t want to tell the world about his or her bad attitude? (It occurs to me that I do that on a weekly basis, so perhaps this isn’t my strongest argument.)
Of course, the stress of finding the proper custom-fit descriptor for your hungry persona—and then anxiously searching candy stores for the bar emblazoned with it—is considerable. That’s not to mention the time involved in that pursuit, which might delay one from consuming one’s personalized Snickers bar, which may cause one to be even hungrier, which could alter one’s said descriptor, thus requiring further search. And what then? What if, while searching for your special bar, you’ve gone from confused to grouchy? Or from crabby to cray cray? Heaven forfend you buy the wrong bar. How will people know these important things about how you feel when you’re hungry? Well, they won’t will they? Worse still, you might feel unseen or unacknowledged by your candy bar. And that might cause you to feel feisty or befuddled or irritable. It’s quite the quagmire.
Now, this may sound strange to some of you young folks (The Weekly Curmudgeon is undoubtedly a big hit with the kids), but there was a time when the product was the product and you had to just take it or leave it. I hope that doesn’t sound offensive or insensitive for its failure to see each of you for who you are, but it’s a true historical fact. Some products didn’t even offer color choices. It was a cold world.
Fortunately, those days are gone, and now, I expect, many manufacturers will follow Snickers’s bold and visionary lead. Soon, everything from hubcaps to potholders will be individualized, emblazoned with interesting and unique facts about you. You’ll have socks to match your exact eye color and a phone case that will proclaim to the world that you’re either sensitive, muscular, Peruvian, bipolar, or allergic to beets. We have evolved from The Information Age to the Too Much Information Age. It’s a new day.
Now, I know you’re all wondering: Who is the Curmudgeon when he’s hungry? You’ll be relieved—as I was—to learn that there is a “curmudgeon” Snickers as well. Of course, I’m curmudgeonly even when I’m not hungry—especially over such stupidity as individualized candy wrappers.
Still, at least I feel seen.